It turns out bigger isn't always better when it comes to your child's birthday.
Teens, too, may feel that a crowded bash isn’t right for them. They may prefer to do a special activity with couple of friends in place of a bustling party. “Think indoor rock climbing, a trapeze class, a double feature at the movies—with popcorn—or even a day out in Manhattan,” Horta says. “A birthday celebration doesn’t always have to mean a big party with lots of people.”
Gather Somewhere Unique
“We keep our daughter’s birthday parties pretty low key,” says Raakhee Mirchandani Singh, a Hoboken, NJ mom of Satya, 5, and author of the forthcoming kids’ book, Super Satya Saves the Day. “For Satya’s second, third, and fourth birthdays, we’ve had a story time at our local bookstore,” she says. The owner “reads some of Satya’s favorite titles, and some new ones too. And Satya and her friends love it,” Singh says.
Instead of receiving goodie bags, “the kids go home with a book,” Singh adds. “I feel awesome knowing we’re...encouraging the next generation of bookworms!”
Honor Your Kid’s Passions
“When my daughter was seven, we decided to focus her birthday party around her interest in dance,” Morganstern says. “I invited a woman who did dance parties to come and lead the kids in a series of dances. It was so wonderful to watch our daughter share something she loved with her friends.”
Incorporating your child’s interests is a great way to make a party special, Khachane agrees: “Through focusing on something that is important to the birthday girl or boy there is a strong connection that takes the experience beyond what one might find at a [generic] party."
See a Party as a Way to Build Community
A birthday party should absolutely focus fully on the birthday boy or girl, but it can also serve another purpose, especially if you’re new in town. For Cherie Corso, a Westchester parent expert, blogger, and mom of a 15-year-old daughter, birthday parties through the years have been wonderful ways to meet other families in town.
“My daughter always wanted to invite her whole class so these gatherings were a great way for me to get to know the parents,” Corso says. “Best of all, my daughter has wonderful memories of those gatherings and I got to meet so many other families, too.”
Let Your Kids Have a Say
After Fort Lee, NJ mom Zaida Khaze’s daughters spent their sixth and seventh birthday parties with close friends, they both announced that for their next birthdays they’d rather go somewhere special. “With all the money that was spent per party for ninety minutes of fun and a goodie bag, I didn’t object,” Khaze says. “The next year, my older daughter opted for a weekend visit with the immediate family to [Great] Wolf Lodge and my younger daughter wanted to go to Six Flags.”
Khaze says she was happy to not spend the time or money planning parties. “I would rather spend that money on their birthday presents. I was very impressed how my kids figured this out on their own.”
Focus on the Love
“Satya just wants to feel loved and celebrated,” Singh says. “I don’t think she cares about the specifics of the venue, the cake, or anything else...As for gifts, we’re pretty aggressive in our ‘no gifts’ policy and have been since her first birthday as Satya is a cancer survivor. Our friends bring gift cards to the party that we donate to the Tomorrows Children’s Fund in Hackensack,” she says. “Truth is, the kid has everything a little girl could want and then some: good health, sneakers that light up, parents who adore her, and more Wonder Woman junk than I ever thought humanly possible. So we encourage her to share with others.”
And isn’t that the point of an awesome birthday party after all?